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November 28, 2022

Kingsman: The Secret Service

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Re-watching ‘Kick-Ass’ recently, it occurred to me that the violence being jokily disparaged by director Matthew Vaughn was, in fact, the selling point of the movie.

His latest offering leaves the same aftertaste.

This is a difficult film to categorise, for if it is meant to be a spoof it is virtually laughless, but if it is to be taken seriously it is infuriatingly self-conscious.

Constant references to James Bond are made, presumably for those numbskulls that don’t get it to begin with, but a tongue-in-cheek approach loses its wry humour if it needs to be spelt out – unless Vaughn is conceding that his core audience is essentially dumb.

The goal of Harry Hart (Colin Firth), a toffy-nosed spy in a Savile Row suit (it looks tight around the waist to me) is to usher into the Service Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the East End bad boy whose father died saving Harry’s life.

The villain in the piece is Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a megalomaniac out of the same mould as Blofeld, Le Chiffre or any of Ian Fleming’s creations. His assistant, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), is a raven-haired hornbag with artificial legs, like Oscar Pistorius’s, with which she slices up her opponents (a nod to Oddjob). The story is Flemingesque, too – and topical.

Valentine, convinced that the planet is dying as a result of mankind’s environmentally catastrophic activities, is plotting to solve the problem with a worldwide population cull.

Having made his vast fortune through the manufacture of computer software, he will distribute, free of charge, sim-cards programmed to cast their holders into a homicidal rage when Valentine ficks the switch. It’s the task of the Kingsman agents to stop this happening.

Firth, now content to wallow in self-parody, is drearily suave, Michael Caine is similarly unenthused as the M character, Egerton tries hard but is nondescript, while Jackson, not surprisingly, is the life of the party.

In the end, a miss is as good as a mile and, though promising much, this is just high-gloss dross.

~ John Campbell

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